Nathaniel M. Wrey, author of a futuristic fantasy, Liberty Bound, has created a refreshingly different view of a survival tale. Through his study of history and understanding of the present, his rapid-fire narrative takes the reader into criminal minds, violence, and movie/ screenplay adaptable action.
Finbarl, a gun-toting young guard patrolling the walls of the last remaining earthly civilization, Athenia, sets the scene and mood. He helps protect the residents of a destitute and frightened human-occupied compound. Prowling the surrounding desert-like wilderness are the Ferrels, sub-human, depraved creatures that attack and cannibalize humans. The plot revolves around the citizens’ belief that they were chosen to guard and protect what’s left of world civilization against the enemy Ferrels. These wild savage beasts are believed to be abominations, mutated criminals, “anarchic elements responsible for the death of the old world.”
Finbarl is a relatable character. When forced to lie, he “felt his heart race, his stomach knot, and his mouth go dry.” His experience as a guard transporting prisoners to the desert introduces the reader to the realities of “prison.” He begins to wonder if there is justice for innocent but condemned citizens. Then he is also unjustly sentenced to a certain death in prison.
Aminatra, an intelligent young mother convicted for theft becomes an unlikely love interest.
The author uses this provocative tale for many philosophical takeaways. Prospective liberators/conquerors who want to take over the town and provoke a revolution for freedom help others to understand freedom and plan for liberty. “Each society needs its enemies, and every society has its walls – metaphorically speaking, of course – to keep its people in check.” The ruling class has provided the citizens with a plant called Jumblar. Given out at regular intervals, the plant causes euphoria and a sense of well-being, but after a person’s addiction controls him, withdrawal is impossible without serious consequences. Is there a parallel in today’s society?
The author’s political satire is evident in the dialog between prisoners who discuss freedom. They agree that fear is used to manipulate and control. And that no place with walls is free, whether the walls are psychological or physical.
Liberty Bound is more than an entertaining young adult novel. Discussions of freedom and liberty as presented in this book would be a compelling and challenging basis for civics or social studies classes. It is thoroughly researched and wonderfully presented. Intelligent and compelling, and thought-provoking. Much more than a futuristic fantasy. Hopefully, there will be a sequel.